The COVID-19 pandemic has caught everyone off guard. This while the national lockdown presents new challenges to schools, principals, teachers, learners and parents.

 

We would like to inspire and motivate you with our new series “Spotlight on…” where we will look at how schools face these challenges and what tools they use to achieve success.

– Interview with Principal Chris Zaayman, Maragon Mooikloof

(KLIEK HIER VIR DIE AFRIKAANSE WEERGAWE)

 

1. What first went through your mind when you heard the announcement of a national lockdown?

We had already closed the school a week before the lockdown started, because we saw it coming, so we started closing the school immediately. We were stumped here and there, but we learned good lessons. It’s going really well so far.

2. How did you prepare for the lockdown?

  • Normal school timetable: We follow the same timetable that we would at school. For example, if the period ends at 09:00, we give the children a chance to relax and stretch their legs before the next session starts.

  • Online classes: We use Microsoft Teams and the miEbooks app as support to offer online classes. We try to shorten the lessons, because the children can’t concentrate fully for so long, and it also uses too much data.

  • Complete lessons: Before the lesson begins, the teacher has to send a complete lesson plan to the learners. Each child receives a complete lesson plan, and then clicks on the relevant link for the period. Technology makes it possible for the teachers to upload the lesson ahead of time. The lessons then don’t need to be live every time, and don’t have to use a lot of data.

  • Assessments: We do an assessment at the end of each lesson. The purpose of the assessments is to see if the learners attended and understood the lesson. We used to do informal assessments now and then, but now we do them daily. It then also serves as an attendance list to see who attended the lesson and who didn’t. We are able to create and send these assessments with the ITSI solution and get immediate results through the miEbooks app.

  • Quality over quantity: We found in the first week that we can’t work online at the same speed as we usually work in the classroom. So, we decided that there now needs to be a big focus on quality instead of quantity. We no longer give the same amount of work and homework.

3. What role would you say ITSI’s technology plays during the lockdown?

Those that have ITSI and miEbooks realised that it is easier to upload everything through miEbooks than through Microsoft Teams. However, since our teachers had been using e-learning and the ITSI solution for six years, they found it easier to adapt to Microsoft Teams as well and use that for class too.

 

Maragon Mooikloof is flying at the moment because we use ITSI. ITSI is totally saving our lives. Other schools that don’t have miEbooks are facing great challenges. I am convinced that other schools that don’t have e-learning must look at miEbooks, and specifically ITSI, with new eyes. It’s so easy, we put everything on miEbooks and we’re sorted.

4. How do the teachers at your school experience the national lockdown?

Our teachers were well prepared because we put our heads together a week before the national lockdown to see what will work and what won’t. We have challenges here and there, but the teachers are calm and relaxed and can do their lessons online.

However, the teachers now need to do extra work to prepare because the lessons need to be somewhat adapted, and because they need to set an assessment for every period. It’s easier with miEbooks and ITSI because the teachers can set the assessment with the help of ITSI, and then the lesson and assessment can be sent to the learners through the miEbooks app.

5. How are your Grade 12 learners doing? In general, there is concern about the class of 2020.

Currently, we are a bit worried about the Grade 12s. Mostly as a result of their practical subjects, where they need to complete practical tasks and hours at school. We are going to catch up with the practical elements of these subjects in a way, even if it means that Saturdays will then have to be used.

6. Any advice you could give to other schools?

My thoughts and advice post-COVID-19 is that teaching is never going to be the same again.

 

  • Invest in technology – Schools will have to invest in technology to get their network and infrastructure right. Every school will have to work out a strategic plan on how they will handle and make technology part of the school in the future. The teachers and learners will have to be exposed to technology.

 

  • Invest in the development of teachers – Schools will have to invest in the development and skills development of their teachers to make sure that the strategic plan can be carried out practically. It was always important for us to invest in skills, not just in results. Results are very important for us, but we believe that skills are more important than results. So, this situation is really made easier and somewhat less stressful because our learners and teachers have the skills to use technology. We are also excited to have our first virtual open days in May!

 

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